Case studies: Impact
Some of our Masters Fellows have now returned to their home countries, having graduated from either LSHTM or UCT. Here are some statements detailing the impact the Consortium Scholarships had on their work.
Irfan Aslam Khattak FCPS (Ophth), MSc (Lond), 2014-2015 Consortium MSc PHEC Scholar
After completing my Masters degree at LSHTM in Public Health for Eye Care in 2015 (sponsored by CEHC), I joined back my parent institute i.e. Alshifa Trust Eye Hospital Kohat. With the knowledge and skills gained at London, I wrote up a proposal to my hospital’s headquarters at Islamabad to start working towards the goal of making Alshifa Kohat a tertiary care institute one day. They luckily agreed and we started with opening up sub-speciality clinics of oculoplasty, paediatric ophthalmology and also a diabetic eye clinic which has initially been equipped with a retinal laser facility only.
Since I have an interest in taking on Diabetic Retinopathy on the clinical as well as public health side, I applied for a second fellowship in retina at a center of excellence in the nearby city of Peshawar and was luckily selected for the post. I am currently working as a fellowship trainee in retina since January 2016 (ending December 2017) at Khyber Institute of Ophthalmic Medical Sciences, Peshawar, Pakistan which is a tertiary eye care facility. Besides I am also a visiting eye surgeon at a 100 bedded secondary eye care i.e. Alshifa Trust Eye Hospital (ASTEH) facility in a relatively remote town named Kohat.
In the near future, after completion of my retina fellowship I plan to raise awareness about diabetic eye disease in the public. My initial idea is to start the awareness campaign from the undergraduate medical students, who can be very effective ambassadors. Building upon this, would do advocacy for a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy screening and management program at the governmental level.
Dr Desirée Murray MB.BS. (UWI), FRCOphth, MSc (Lond), 2014-2015 Consortium MSc PHEC Scholar
Desirée is an Ophthalmologist and Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She was awarded a scholarship by the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium to study for the Masters in Public Health for Eye Care (MSc) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) 2014-2015. Desirée is committed to the elimination of all avoidable blindness, with a special interest in prevention of blindness from glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the Caribbean. For her Masters dissertation, she analysed glaucoma services in Trinidad and Tobago. She has been disseminating her MSc research findings through presentations at the UWI and the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies, including a glaucoma mini-symposium hosted by the West Indian Society of Glaucoma Surgeons, of which she is co-founder.
As a university lecturer, Desirée has continued to teach undergraduate medical students and postgraduate ophthalmologists in training at the UWI. Her teaching style has been greatly influenced by her experiences in London, including the use of educational technology for blended learning via the Moodle platform. In the delivery of her courses, she now places greater emphasis on the Public Health aspects of blindness prevention, including the integration of eye care in to primary health care to facilitate early detection and treatment of eye diseases in the community.
At LSHTM, Desirée was able to interact with the Peek team and learn about all the good work that they are doing in making eye examinations accessible to persons living in remote communities. She was inspired to develop a research proposal and to apply for a research grant and recently received funding to conduct research in Trinidad and Tobago to screen for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy at the primary healthcare level, using digital smartphone imaging.
During her time at the LSHTM, she also had the opportunity to interact with staff at the Consortium, the ICEH (International Centre for Eye Health) and the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness). She has a much greater appreciation of the important role of rehabilitative services in improving the quality of life of the blind and visually impaired and has been supporting calls for the improvement of rehabilitative services in Trinidad and Tobago. She is a proud contributor to the IAPB Essential List for Glaucoma – first edition (March 2017).
Acquisition of the MSc has had a major impact on her approach to eye health matters in Trinidad and Tobago. Her advocacy skills have been enhanced, allowing her to confidently express concerns to policy makers about inequities in access to eye care and to advocate for the inclusion of eye health in the local sustainable development goals agenda. Armed with the skills acquired during pursuit of the MSc and in collaboration with a consultant attached to the Ministry of Health, she is currently in the early stages of developing a national eye care action plan to be implemented and monitored by a national blindness prevention committee. Universal and equitable access to eye care remains the ultimate goal.